By Martina Stafford
As bills keep on rising and the winter gets closer, up to 5,000 people gathered in Cork City on Saturday, 17 September, to say enough is enough.
There were speakers from community groups, political parties, water workers, Unite the Union, UCC student union, disability services activists and housing activists. A message that resonated very strongly with the crowd was a disgust at the profiteering of energy companies and supermarkets while ordinary people are being squeezed by rising costs. There was little illusion that the two are not connected.
A capitalist crisis
The Cost of Living crisis is not natural or inevitable. It is a conscious attack on the living standards of working-class people by those who seek to defend and increase profits for businesses. The gluttonous profiteering shows that society has incredible wealth but the share that working-class people get is a question of class struggle.
Socialist Party TD Mick Barry called out a government that is not only representing the profiteers but is part and parcel of the whole profiteering capitalist system. There was a palpable sense of anger at the establishment parties, Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil, and a strong desire to kick them out. But, the cause of this crisis, which is a combination of multiple specific crises from housing to war to climate change, is the capitalist system itself, which has to be reckoned with.
Therefore it is urgent that we win all workers and young people to a struggle that goes beyond a government that isn’t Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil. We need a real fightback. We need to build networks of resistance which involve people in the fight on these issues and coordinate action across communities and workplaces. The wave of strikes in Britain and the North show that workers will respond. If the current union leadership in the South of Ireland won’t fight, workers need to take the initiative for strike action from below.
A national demo in Dublin will take place next Saturday, 24 September, just before the Budget on 27 September. The next demonstration in Cork has been called for November 12, when households will be facing colder temperatures and massive bills. We need to build for this demonstration to bring more workers and communities into this fight. We also need to illustrate that our struggle won’t end until we take ownership and control of the economy out of private hands and democratically plan it to meet the needs of all people and the environment.